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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 20:44 GMT 21:44 UK
That sinking feeling
BBC Sport Online speaks to world number 72 Mick Price about the day Ronnie O'Sullivan entered the record books with the fastest maximum in snooker history.
If anyone should know whether Ronnie O'Sullivan is capable of lifting the Embassy World Championship it is Mick Price.
Price, currently the world number 72, was the man on the receiving end of The Crucible's most magical moment - when The Rocket crashed home his memorable 147 in five minutes twenty seconds.
The 34-year-old, who is confident O'Sullivan will lift this year's trophy if he keeps his head, can still vividly remeber almost every shot from that remarkable frame four years ago - including the error which let The Rocket launch his break into action.
"Well if you were to ask me what the strongest part of my game is, I would have to say safety.
"But, on this occasion, I played one of the worst safety shots of my career, let Ronnie in and five minutes later history was made.
"I realised from very early on that he could get a maximum and the way he did it was amazing - he was just getting quicker and quicker and at one point I thought he was going to explode.
"I've been on the snooker circuit for a while now and the sheer speed at which he moved around the table was hard to take in.
"I only realised the guy was human when he took a breath before the green - and he told me later that he start getting a bit nervous at that point."
Despite the fact that he could still have conceivably won the frame, Price confesses he was willing Chigwell's finest all the way to a maximum from very early on.
"When he got to 48, there were still four or five reds free and I knew he had a chance so I was urging him on.
"I just got a sense that he was going to do it - I don't know what it was but he couldn't seem to miss anything.
"The crazy thing was that before the frame he had whispered to me that he was tired - well, if that was him when he was tired I wouldn't like to play him on top of his game."
Price, who was once ranked 17th in the world, has had 25 maximum breaks in his own career and admits there is no better feeling in the game for a professional player.
And he acknowledged that despite the fact that players look composed when they get down to the final black, the truth is that they are just a nervous as the thousands watching across the nation.
"As a professional you always dream of getting a maximum and I always told myself that if I ever got the chance I would take hours over the final ball.
"I got down to the black three times before I actually dared to wobble it in but the sensation afterwards was indescribable.
"You just prey you don't do what Ken Doherty did at the Benson and Hedges Masters and miss the final black - I once missed the pink and that was bad enough but for a player as experienced as Ken to miss was very surprising."
Having first hand experience of what O'Sullivan is truly capable of achieving, Price is quietly confident he can win his first Embassy World Championship.
"It would be a tragedy if someone of Ronnie's ability never won the game's ultimate prize," said Price, who is an avid Nuneaton Borough fan.
"We are talking about someone who beat me in a pro-am at the age of 12 and I was a professional then and was knocking in centuries at the age of 10 - so this is a rare talent.
"And I think if he can hold himself together at this year's tournament he will win it this year.
"However, his greatest enemy is himself. As well as his continual quit threats, he has already shown he is not is not mentally right for tournament.
"But he has got so much in reserve and he can easily burst into life and show the world what he is truly capable of so there is no telling what might happen."
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